Life at Duke is Madness

TY PILSON -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 12:55 PM ET

The Madness starts on the campus of Duke University long before March.

College basketball is a way of life at the North Carolina school, a perennial national powerhouse under legendary coach Mike Krzyzewski.

Calgary Roughneck defenders Taylor and Devan Wray -- brothers who grew up in Edmonton -- experienced life in Blue Devil land firsthand.

Both attended Duke for four years starting in 2001 and played on the school's NCAA field lacrosse team.

"There's a place outside Cameron Indoor Stadium called Krzyzewskiville," explained Devan. "It's a rectangular grass area where students camp out. Basically, when you get back after Christmas until the end of the regular season students camp out there. It's ridiculous.

"They pitch tents and they number the tents and that's basically your spot in line (for tickets). It's set up for wireless Internet, there's power outlets everywhere. They basically live outside the stadium for four months.

"That gives you a sense of the commitment there from the students to the basketball team. Basketball is definitely the big show on campus. The atmosphere in Cameron Indoor Stadium is legendary. The frenzy of the fans is second to none."

Cameron Indoor Stadium is small -- it seats around 9,300 and change when crammed full. It was named the fourth-best stadium to watch a sporting event in the world according to USA Today.

The stadium's small size means only some 4,000 student tickets are available for each Duke home game.

Hence the need for Krzyzewskiville, which has its own set of rules.

There must be a student in each tent, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Groups of students take shifts in the tents -- no matter the weather.

"My sophomore year we had 12 inches of snow," said Taylor. "And the people in the tents had to stay in the tents. That's dedication."

Devan saw five or six games in his time at Duke while Taylor said he caught a couple each year.

"It was tough playing lacrosse because our season overlapped with the basketball season so we could never get in line," said Devan. "But I did get to sneak in every now and then. There's usually a way to sneak your way in."

Inside the stadium, there are rules, too.

"The whole thing is electric. The lower section is set aside for students and graduate students and those people stand the entire. game," said Taylor.

"There's no sitting down in the student section. The rule is the players are up, the fans are up."

The Duke fans are known for their chants and heckling of visiting players.

"They have all sorts of co-ordinated chants," said Taylor. "The tradition is incredible. These fans go on the Internet and google guys and try and find out stuff about them growing up and then make chants about it.

"They are hardcore."


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